My high school recently lost a young teacher to cancer. Though I was never fortunate enough to have had this individual as my teacher, I know many people who did, and the outpouring of grief at his loss, support for his family, and memories of his influence on his students left me simply awestruck. Never before was it so clear to me that a teacher can literally change the lives of hundreds – even THOUSANDS – of young people over the course of their careers. That’s why it’s important to take some time to recognize these amazing people, who play such a critical role in each of our lives.
Each year, the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teachers Award accepts nominations for teachers and professors who made a significant difference in their students’ lives. Nominators MUST be students (not parents of students, colleagues, etc.), so even receiving a nomination is testament to the fact that the nominee has made a lasting impression on their students. The winners of the award receive $10,000 and are showcased along with the student they inspired.
Eligibility rules and nomination instructions can be found on the Kennedy Center’s website. Nominations can be written or presented in audio or video format. Nominators must be over 18 years old, and can no longer attend the school where their nominee works. Nominees may have been teachers for any grade from kindergarten through college. The deadline for nominations is December 15, so if you’re fortunate enough to know a teacher who transformed your life, I urge you to take this opportunity to recognize them for it. Trust me – your nomination alone will mean more to them than the $10,000 prize (although I’m sure they wouldn’t mind winning that either!).